Our Lady Peace is a Canadian alternative rock band that formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1992. Widely recognized by its abbreviation OLP, the band currently consists of members Raine Maida, Duncan Coutts, Jeremy Taggart and Steve Mazur. The band has sold over five million albums worldwide, won four Juno Awards, and won ten MuchMusic Video Awards ? the most MMVAs ever awarded to any artist or group.
OLP has released seven studio albums, one live album, and two compilation albums, with their 1997 album Clumsy often being considered their signature and most widely recognized work to date. They have enjoyed many hit singles, ranging from "Starseed" in 1994, to "Somewhere Out There" in 2002.
While the band's first four albums have been praised for their unique sound and style, their fifth and sixth studio albums?Gravity and Healthy in Paranoid Times?are sometimes believed to have been a "radical departure" from their distinctive style of music. Gravity itself has been criticized as being "too mainstream" or "uninspired". The 2001 departures of both founding member Mike Turner and longtime-producer Arnold Lanni, in combination with influence from then-new producer Bob Rock, are often credited as main factors in the style change.
Our Lady Peace began work on their seventh studio album, titled Burn Burn, in early 2007. The album was released on July 21, 2009, first being performed at a secret concert in Toronto, and marks the longest time gap between OLP studio albums to date.
Formation and debut album (1992?1996)
In 1992, guitarist Mike Turner placed a "musicians wanted" ad in Toronto-based Now Magazine looking to form a new band. Michael Maida, a criminology student at the University of Toronto, was the first to reply. The two formed a band called As If with Jim Newell playing drums and a friend of Mike Turner's, Paul Martin, playing bass. Having played a number of gigs in Oshawa with sets containing a mix of original and cover material, Turner's friend departed and the band placed a "musicians wanted" ad for a replacement bass player. Chris Eacrett, a business student at Ryerson University, replied and was accepted after the audition. During that time, Turner and Maida attended a music seminar where they met songwriter and producer Arnold Lanni, the owner of Arnyard Studios. The band, with Lanni, commenced writing new material and recorded some material under the As If name.
To better reflect the new musical direction, the name of the band was changed to Our Lady Peace, and with encouragement from Lanni and his management team, they performed some gigs in Eastern Ontario and Montreal with the assistance of D.J. Williams (a Ridley College alumnus and classmate of Maida, also a Ridley College alumnus), in conjunction with The Tea Party. During this time, Maida began using the name Raine to reduce the confusion of having two Mikes in the band. An independent video of the song "Out of Here" was also created during this time period by Sam Siciliano, a Ryerson University film student and friend of Mike Turner, who produced, edited, and directed the video. The video was aired on MuchMusic on their Indie show.
After returning to Arnyard Studios to continue writing and recording material, Jim Newell departed the band. Writing and recording continued with session drummer John Bouvette. With managers Rob Lanni and Eric Lawrence of Coalition Entertainment representing the band, and temporary drummer Jody Wilson, short showcases were arranged with Warner Music Canada, EMI Canada, and Sony Music Canada. Sony Music Canada head of A&R, Richard Zuckerman, liked what he heard and saw the potential of the producer, the band, and band's management. Along with president Rick Camilleri and with Mike Roth and Gary Furniss of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the band signed a record deal Sony Music Canada and a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. The band commenced writing additional material for a debut album, as well as placing a "musicians wanted" ad for a drummer which was answered by then seventeen-year-old Jeremy Taggart, and on the strength of his potential, the producer and band asked that he join.
After additional material was written and recorded, with the continued assistance of John Bouvette on several tracks and guitarist Phil X contributing a solo on "Denied", Our Lady Peace released its debut album Naveed in 1994 under Sony Music Canada. Following the release of the album, the band toured with fellow Canadian acts I Mother Earth and 54-40. Upon hearing the album, Robert Plant contacted the band to open for him and Jimmy Page on their 1995 tour. The record was later picked up and released in the United States in March 1995 by a Sony Music indie label, Relativity Records. Touring continued on into 1996 with time spent touring with Canadian Alanis Morissette. The title track, "Naveed", became a hit in Canada, while "Starseed" became a hit in both Canada and the United States. "Starseed" would later be featured on the Armageddon film soundtrack.
Signing with Columbia Records, Summersault and Clumsy (1996?1999)
In early 1997, Our Lady Peace was offered an American signing with Columbia Records, expanding their horizons within Sony Music Entertainment. After touring the album Naveed, the band began work on their second studio album for Columbia. As the writing process ensued, bassist Chris Eacrett and the band parted ways due to musical differences. Rob Coutts, a Ridley College alumni and classmate of Raine Maida, joined the band as Duncan Coutts on bass during the recording of their second album.
Titled Clumsy, the band's second album was released in January of 1997. It features the hit songs "Superman's Dead", "4 AM", "Automatic Flowers", "Carnival" and the title track "Clumsy". It established Our Lady Peace as a leading band in the Canadian rock scene. The album cover was based on a song called "Trapeze", which was initially going to be the name of the album. They decided to leave the song off the album but still performed it live. In February 2001, Clumsy became a diamond-certified album in Canada.
In 1998, Our Lady Peace founded the Summersault festival that toured across Canada in 1998 and 2000, with lineups that included Foo Fighters, A Perfect Circle and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Happiness, touring and Spiritual Machines (1999?2001)
In 1999 the band released their third album titled Happiness...Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch. The album included such hits as "Thief", a song about a young girl named Mina Kim that the band met who had cancer, as well as "One Man Army" and "Is Anybody Home?". Legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones was featured on the song "Stealing Babies". Multi-instrumentalist Jamie Edwards was brought in 1996 for the sessions for the album and remained an unofficial member of the band until 2001 when he was asked to officially join the band to finish the album Gravity. Shortly after the completion of the record, Jamie chose to leave the band, returning briefly to stand in for Mike Eisenstein during the Canadian tour of Gravity. The band also played an eleven song set at Woodstock 1999.
In 2000, the band released Spiritual Machines, a concept album inspired by Ray Kurzweil's book The Age of Spiritual Machines. During the recording of the album, drummer Jeremy Taggart was sidelined with an ankle injury; Matt Cameron, Pearl Jam's drummer and former member of Soundgarden, played drums on "Right Behind You (Mafia)" and "Are You Sad?" in his place. The album featured the singles "In Repair", "Life" and "Right Behind You (Mafia)". "Life" was also featured in the soundtrack for the Canadian sports comedy film Men with Brooms. Spiritual Machines was less commercially successful than its predecessors.
Gravity's album cover was the first not to feature art model Saul Fox.
Changes in direction (2001?2005)
By the the new millennium, the band was becoming restless, feeling a numbness with their popularity as well as the over-saturation of their songs on Canadian Radio and even came close to breaking up after touring in support of Spiritual Machines. In December 2001, after commencing work with new producer Bob Rock on a new album, founding guitarist Mike Turner left the band, citing "creative differences". According to the band members the separation was amicable.
Lead singer Raine Maida said of the departure, "The last two records we've been yearning for a guitar player that can really stand up and have a strong voice and Mike just wasn't that kind of guitar player." Turner later formed the bands Fair Ground and Crash Karma. Turner's last performance with the band was for Music Without Borders at Toronto's Air Canada Center on October 21, 2001.
In April 2002, after a global call for a replacement for Turner, Steve Mazur was announced as the new guitarist for the band and recording of their new album was completed. OLP's fifth studio album, Gravity, was released in June 2002 to mixed reviews. Some critics and fans contended that the album was a radical departure from the band's musical style, adopting an increasingly mainstream sound. Percussionist Jeremy Taggart disclosed in a 2002 interview that the new direction was intentional, and that Gravity was "by far their best album".
The album's chart-topping first single, "Somewhere Out There", became the band's biggest international hit to date. The second single released off, "Innocent", was also very popular and regained popularity in 2008 after a cover performance on American Idol. "Made of Steel" was also a hit across North America.
On June 24, 2003, Our Lady Peace release their first live album titled Live. Live contains some of the band's greatest hits as played throughout tours in Canada. Notable differences to the studio versions are Naveed / Life, which was played as one single song throughout the supporting tour.
Healthy in Paranoid Times
In August 2005, the band released their sixth album Healthy in Paranoid Times, which included the tracks "Angels/Losing/Sleep", "Will the Future Blame Us", and "Where Are You?" Shortly after recording the album, the band disclosed that during the making of the album, they nearly broke up. According to Rolling Stone, it took 1165 days to create it, and its twelve tracks were chosen from forty-five that the band had written and produced.
Maida has since criticized Healthy in Paranoid Times, saying that "(the) record was total excess, total bullshit in the sense of, we finally had succumbed to a label: making us record that many songs, trying to find the right singles for American radio and MTV."
The album Healthy in Paranoid Times is the reason why the band terminated their American signing with Columbia, which also completely effectively ended the band's affiliation with Sony Music, including their recording contract with Sony Music Canada since 1993.
Compilation albums (2006, 2009)
In November 2006, Columbia Records released a greatest hits compilation titled A Decade following the band's departure from the label. There were two previously unreleased songs on the album, "Kiss On The Mouth" and "Better Than Here". Steve Mazur wrote in a blog on the band's fan club that the new songs on the disc were two unreleased songs from the Healthy in Paranoid Times sessions.
The collection also included a bonus DVD containing live concert footage and exclusive interviews at the Massey Hall concert. The single "Kiss On The Mouth", the first off A Decade, has received play on radio stations across Canada.
On March 31, 2009, Legacy Recordings released OLP's second compilation album, The Very Best of Our Lady Peace as part of the Playlist series. The album includes famed singles such as "Naveed" and "Somewhere Out There", as well as lesser-known songs such as "Car Crash" and "Stealing Babies".
Burn Burn and subsequent touring (2007?present)
Main article: Burn Burn (album)
A clip of the Burn Burn song "Escape Artist"
After the release of their 2006 compilation album, A Decade, the band entered a short hiatus period after having departed ways with Columbia Records. Lead vocalist Raine Maida began work on his first solo album, The Hunter's Lullaby, which was released in 2007, while the remaining members of the band also became preoccupied with other personal endeavors. The hiatus would result in the longest time gap between OLP studio albums to date.
The band began working on Burn Burn, their seventh studio album, in February 2007, completing it in March 2009. Raine Maida has called the new album "huge", and noted it as being a "proper rock album again"?featuring a return to the raw originality of the band's first album Naveed, though a "little more mature". Maida solely produced the album, noting his excitement over "not (having had) anybody intrude on (recording) sessions". The album was released in North America on July 21, 2009.
The band has begun touring to promote Burn Burn and will make stops in several cities across North America throughout July, August, and September.
Style and themes
In the band's early years and especially in Naveed, Our Lady Peace's overall sound was often compared to alternative rock bands including Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. The band's melodic structure was also said to echo that of bands such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
Maida singing in 2009
Lead singer Raine Maida's voice was called "erratic", and "truly unrivaled" in his field. In albums Naveed through Spiritual Machines, Maida sang in a countertenor vocal register, and used his falsetto almost exclusively when singing. This singing method, in combination with the band's melody structure, often gave many songs a surreal sound and effect.
After working with Bob Rock on their 2002 studio album Gravity, Maida stopped using his trademark falsetto voice as heavily as in earlier albums, and began singing in a more baritone vocal register.
Saul Fox theme
After meeting then-70-year-old art model Saul Fox in 1993, the band asked him to pose for Naveed's album cover. Since then, Fox has been used on four additional Our Lady Peace album covers: Clumsy, Happiness..., Spiritual Machines and A Decade.
Fox as he appears on five Our Lady Peace albums between 1994 and 2006
According to lead singer Maida in a 1998 interview, Fox "represent(ed) a whole lot of stuff with the band ... he's a very unique individual, a very inspiring individual". Fox, when asked about the meaning of his use in Our Lady Peace's artwork, said: "What they have to say inside is difficult for them to express. They don't have the vocabulary. They don't have the ability to express it in words. They have a difficult time even identifying it. All they know is that their soul has a feeling and they've got to express it."
When the band changed their musical and artistic direction in 2002, they stopped using Fox on their album covers. On Gravity's album cover, a photo of the band members was used, and on the cover for Healthy in Paranoid Times, a painting of a 20-something man sitting on a chair was used.
For the album cover of their 2009 album Burn Burn, the band re-embraced the Saul Fox theme concept, incorporating a middle-aged Fox look-alike wearing an outfit similar to the one used by Fox on the cover of the band's 1999 album Happiness... Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch.